December is here! How did this happen? I felt like it was just September a minute ago. December arrived swiftly and it came in like a roaring lion! Wait…isn’t that the saying about spring? Nevertheless, with the holiday hustle and bustle, it can be such an exciting and magical time for kiddos. Perfect time to pull out and share 5 picture books for Christmas in the classroom.
I love to bank on this excitement by lining my classroom with a plethora of Christmas books. Elementary students love the holidays! What’s not to love? Family time, the excitement of possible snow, gift-giving, tons of fun food, Santa, Christmas lights, pajama days, hot chocolate…there’s so much that a youngster can look forward to. I look back fondly on the Decembers from my elementary years and absolutely cherish them.
Since students are so very delighted about this month, incorporating lots of picture books is a wonderful way to get students excited about reading. I have ten picture books perfect for the elementary classroom I’d like to share with you! Let’s start today with five of them and come back next week for the rest!
Dasher by Matt Tavares
We first discovered Matt Tavares in 2019 with his publication of his Christmas book, Dasher. It quickly took the reading world by force and has now become extremely popular. Tavares is a New York Times Bestseller who was known for sports novels and biographies before he ventured into the world of holiday picture books. Not only is Dashertruly heartwarming, but its beautiful illustrations, by Tavares himself, make for such a perfect read-aloud around the classroom rug.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life — one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh — a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.
Check out our Dasher’s Daring Escape here!
Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares
Dasher was our first discovery of Matt Tavares, but we quickly learned he had another Christmas picture book before it. Red & Lulu has the same sweet, heartwarming Christmasy feel, with the same gorgeous illustrations that drive the story along. What we love about Matt Tavares is that his stories always have some sort of educational element as well. In Dasher, we learn that the female reindeer would be the ones to pull Santa’s sleigh, because real female reindeer would have antlers in December, just like Santa’s flying crew, whereas male reindeer cast their antlers by that time. What a fun and interesting fact!
Red & Lulu contains the true story of the annual practice of cutting down one evergreen tree from a small town in the USA to become the Rockefeller Center tree in NYC. With a nonfiction article in the back of the book explaining this, Red & Lulu quickly becomes informative as well as entertaining.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each other again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles. . . . From Matt Tavares comes a heart-tugging story combining the cheer of Christmas, the magic of New York City, and the real meaning of the holiday season: how important it is to be surrounded by love.
Check out our Red & Lulu unit here!
Little Red Sleigh by Erin Guendelsberger
This picture book is ideal for those younger elementary students, but young and old will love this story. Similar to the underdog story of Rudolph, a little red sleigh feels like she’s too young and little to be Santa’s actual sleigh. Children will relate to this book in a deep way, as many have felt disqualified from doing certain things because of their age or size. This picture book is beautifully illustrated and really pulls on the heartstrings.
Publisher’s Synopsis: The Little Red Sleigh has one big dream―to one day become Santa’s big red sleigh! But all her life, she’s been told she’s too small, she’s too young, she can’t fly, and she certainly can’t meet Santa. Well, this Christmas, with the help of some friends, she’s determined to do the impossible. Little Red Sleigh is a heartwarming children’s Christmas book you’ll want to read again and again. Full of winter joy and holiday magic, this charming Christmas story will remind readers of all ages that no dream is out of reach if you believe.
Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner
We absolutely adore the Snowmen collection of picture books. With its simple story of the secret lives of snowmen at night and their adventures, students can’t get enough of these books!
Publisher’s Synopsis: This snappy and entertaining companion to the New York Times bestseller Snowmen at Night depicts all the best parts of the holiday, replete with icy treats and a snowman Kris Kringle. Told in the same bouncy verse as the original, Snowmen at Christmas is perfect for a snowy evening read-aloud.
Check out our Snowmen at Christmas resources here!
Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer (Christian Picture Book)
This picture book about Humphrey, the clumsy camel on a journey in the desert, will have students giggling. Yet, as the story progresses, we see just how magical that journey is and the destination, in this case, was even more important: to see the newly born baby Jesus.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Humphrey the camel is only interested in one thing — getting his carpet blanket back. As he journeys with the Wise Men to Bethlehem, Humphrey bemoans his lost blanket until he finally gets a new one. But when the caravan arrives and Humphrey sees baby Jesus shivering, he gives the child his new blanket without a second thought. Full of rich acrylic paintings, humor, and heart, this book will swiftly become a cherished favorite with little ones.
These picture books will make an impact on students this holiday season. Whether it’s to learn a lesson on how young people can impact the world no matter how disqualified they feel or whether students need a magical story about Santa and his reindeer, these picture books will make students excited about reading. Stay tuned for next week for Part 2 with five more Christmas picture books!
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